Pollard boots Bulls to victory
A last-gasp penalty from Handre Pollard earned the Bulls a 25-24 Super Rugby victory against the Western Force in Pretoria on Saturday.
The rising star of South African rugby stepped up to slot home a 79th-minute three-pointer to earn the Bulls their third consecutive victory, which continues their resurgence after they lost their first two matches of the new season. Pollard ended the match with 20 points.
The Force, who have now lost five in a row after winning their opening match, could count themselves somewhat unfortunate to only come away from Loftus Versfeld with a losing bonus point given they outscored their opponents by three tries to one.
The Bulls drew first blood when fly-half Pollard kicked an early penalty, but the Force hit back in the 12th minute when lock Adam Coleman waltzed through a gaping defensive hole at the side of the ruck and ran 30 metres to score the game's first try.
Centre Luke Burton added the conversion to put the Force 7-3 ahead but Pollard slotted a second penalty soon after to reduce their lead to just a point, before kicking the Bulls ahead shortly before the half-time break with his third three-pointer.
The Force started the second half encouragingly and regained the lead when lock Sam Wykes dotted down and Burton added the extras to put them 14-9 ahead.
Their early second-half endeavour was undone, however, when Coleman and prop Tetera Faulkner were sent to the sin bin for maul infringements and, with a two-man advantage, the Bulls got their noses in front once again as prop Marcel van der Merwe crossed for their only try of the match and Pollard converted.
The Bulls' 16-14 advantage was then extended to 22-14 as Pollard slotted two penalties in quick succession but, having being restored to 15 players, the Force reduced their lead to just a point with seven minutes remaining as centre Kyle Godwin showed good footwork to evade his tackler and cross the whitewash and Sias Ebersohn added the conversion.
A thumping 60-metre penalty from Ebersohn saw the Force take a 24-22 lead with three minutes to play, but a tip-tackle from Coleman handed Pollard the chance to kick the Bulls to victory and he made no mistake from the tee to land his sixth penalty of the match.